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January 29, 2009

Responses to Burning Times

Comments following the Burning Times video:

At the beginning, it was about healing – the healing springs – in Jewish tradition, there is a mikvah where women go to be spiritually renewed.

Impressed about the woman dancer as very feminine and powerful.

Disagreed with the medieval understanding that women were more sexual than men.

Why were the witches in the video associated with fire? Fire of knowledge?

When they were talking about the threat the midwives posed – birth control – what knowledge did they have at the time?

So much of the artwork at that time showed women (the suspected witches) as naked – why was that? To demean them?

How far back in history did this destroying of witches go? Is this connected to famines, etc., where villages resorted to cannibalism?

What this has done to women – hatred of our bodies; what this has done to men – must have affected their spirituality as well

It left out some of the cultures that were especially hit – the Gypsy culture – they persisted and survived with an alternative culture

The statistic of 9 million at the high end – was amazing – and also thought how she stated that paganism was based on actions, customs, and ecology not beliefs was interesting. Also – the money part- how this was a big business.

Interesting that our history claims the scientific revolution took place in Europe and not the Islamic world, which had been farther along at that time.

What blows mind – how much Christianity takes from the pagan religions – turn their goddesses into saints, and take their holy days and make them into Christian holidays.

Surprised by midwives – showing art work of them doing their work – one picture of a woman with a knife – could she have been doing a C-section? What was lost by suppressing their knowledge?

Two things – women were barred from Universities, and couldn’t practice medicine without going to the University

How it has only been three hundred years – and people have forgotten – could it happen again?

Week #4 Reading Discussion Questions

Questions for Week #4 - "Reconstructing Tradition" in WomanSpirit Rising - 131-192

1. In looking over the introduction, recall that the authors later recognized that the dichotomy of "reformist" versus "revolutionary" was problematic. Do you find anything useful in the definition here of "reformist"? What do the editors suggest are the reasons many feminist women have for reforming tradition rather than abandoning it?

2. Fiorenza -- What does Fiorenza find within Catholic faith and practice that supports full spirituality and dignity for women?
* Where in Christian tradition does she find woman-friendly resources? In particular, what resources does she find in the devotional traditions around Mary?
* Why does she think it is important to find gender neutral language for religious services?
* Why does Fiorenza find some features of the tradition of sainthood liberating for women? How would the tradition of sainthood need to be modified to allow women full lives?
* She shows that "dualistic anthropology" isn't essential to Christian faith and practice. What are the dangers associated with seeing men and women has having essentially different natures, whether their natural characteristics are seen as negative or positive?
* What will it take for the church to be cleansed of sexism?

3. Collins -- As you read this, pay attention to how different Collins' experience of religion is from that of Fiorenza. They come from very different faith communities and theological backgrounds. How would you characterize the differences?
* How does Collins see that churches have reinforced women's disempowerment?
* Why will a theology that begins with women's stories allow for true change?
* What is the goal for making change happen?

4. Morton -- What is the "dilemma" that this article is about?
* Morton describes a point of time when language lost its metaphoric power. What about women's experience does she argue can lead them back to the level of organic unity of body and mind? What do you think of her characterization of women (the feminine)? Does this start shading over into a claim that women have a feminine "nature," which was something that Fiorenza was concerned about?
* What did you think about the two excerpts from an account of a birth and a memorial service? Is there anything about them that supports Morton's view that there is a feminine and organic way of doing religious celebration?

5. Gross -- Why does Gross use "God-She" language? Why use human imagery or words for God at all? Mary Daly doesn't think we need it.
* What are the risks of using exclusively male images for God? What are the advantages of substituting female images for God, at least some of the time?
* Skim over the last articles just to get a feeling for doing religious ritual with female imagery. How do these rituals make you feel? Have you been a part of services where female imagery has been used?

Week #4 Reading Reflection Assignment

Write your Week #4 Reading Reflection responding to these prompts. Due for full points: Feb 5; grace period deadline for reduced points: Feb 12.

These articles focus on finding ways to reform or transform existing formal religious traditions in ways that better meet women’s spiritual needs.
- Citing specific points from these articles, which ideas do these writers present that you think are still important and worth pursuing to improve women's religious options and experience?
- Do you know of any contemporary formal religious practices that have changed in ways that these articles proposed? If so, please describe.
- Do you think there are reasons why any of these reforms are unlikely to be successful (be specific in your response)? If so, why do you think they are unlikely to happen?

January 23, 2009

Comments on Goddess Cultures

What struck you about the video depicting ancient Goddess-centered cultures (The Goddess Remembered)?

That the women’s time (Goddess era) was more peaceful – more fair, egalitarian, fair to the earth – why haven’t we got back there more? Also, what they were talking about in 1989 is also going on now – economics, warfare, capitalism, “domination culture".

Interesting they were talking about the ecological aspect of things – now that’s talked about a lot more – almost a trendy thing – they popularized it – so now “going green" is a slogan. They made their point enough that it’s mainstream. The serpent was a symbol of the goddess – that was interesting.

The snake goddess – seemed like it was a phallic symbol in how they were held – the male symbols seemed to be circumcised – and this was before Abraham. Why did they focus on Crete and Malta and Greece, rather than other places in the world? Also, in Western/Christian culture sex is seen as “bad".

How the images of women from very ancient times to more historic times – the images carry the same energy / power of femininity / womanhood – this same energy seems to be present in the contemporary women at the table (in the video).

In the book, womanhood seems to be tied to having children – then how would women who were childless be seen?

The whole serpent as a symbol of goddess is interesting – because when Biblical times began, it was a symbol of Satan – anything where Goddess/female was revered was rewritten and vilified – in Greece, the Amazon was an image that was seen as negative (women’s power seen as negative).

Question about the assumption of “women’s time" – in other cultures, there have been egalitarian societies closer to our own time – (some Native American cultures, as an example) – and in cultures where shamanistic spirituality exist, this power isn’t limited to either gender – historically, this understanding of women’s spiritual gifts was lost in Western culture.

All of these Goddess figures – were they related? Were these cultures in touch with each other, interconnected?

January 22, 2009

What questions do you start with?

Here are some questions that class members identified coming into the class - some may be answered by our work together, and others may not.

Feel free to add comments or additional questions.

Why did women accept second-class status? An example: why have women in African societies put up with genital mutilation in the name of religion?

How come individuals aren’t accountable, but religion is held accountable (“I had a bad priest�?) – why can’t people accept that religion is an institution made up of human beings who make mistakes?

Why would the woman or the man consider themselves as a second-class gender, complain about it, and not change?

Why do so many religions separate out women – have separate rules for women? Where did it start?

Why in some religions are female images venerated and real women not treated well?

Why do people put the blame on religion when they do something wrong? Why not think for themselves?

Has it been pressure from the outside or the inside of religions that has led to change for women?

What drives individual in a search for religion?

On that question, why do they search for religion instead of search for spirituality?

What actually makes women feel like they are second class?

Why would you start your life with something that you know won’t work, from your experience of the world?

Are there any religions that are truly gender equal? If there are more than one, are there any similarities?

Rubric for Reading Reflection Assignments

Rubric for weekly Women and Religion Reading Reflection assignments.

I. Weekly entries show evidence of having read and understood the reading assignment before writing, and have taken a minimum of 30-60 minutes each week of thoughtful writing time in doing the Reading Reflection assignment.

II. Word count is a minimum of 250 words, with 500 words preferred.

III. Writing has responded to the assigned reading and to the posted Reading Reflection question(s) in ways that shows understanding of key points of the reading and/or asks thoughtful questions. Responds to reading rather than just summarizing material or ideas.

IV. When appropriate, writing makes reference to other readings, to other class members’ ideas, or to personal experiences in ways that that shows meaningful connections to the week’s reading assignment.

V. Writes in a manner that conveys ideas clearly. Attributes ideas or quoted material appropriately.

Excellent = “A? range
Good = “B? range
Satisfactory = “C? range
Partially Satisfactory =?D? range

Point value: 8 points possible for each Reading Response. 8=A; 7=B; 6=C; 5=D; less than 5 = not passing for this assignment.

Late Reading Reflections can be posted up to one week late, but will lose one point (one grade level), unless I have given you permission for the late assignment due to unusual extenuating circumstances.

January 15, 2009

Reading Reflection Weekly Assignment Overview

Women and Religion – Reading Responses Weekly Assignment

The purpose of writing these responses to the reading is to help you reflect personally on the concepts and issues you are being exposed to, and to prepare you to contribute to group learning through your later responses to others’ ideas. This writing will require between 30-60 minutes each week. The reading response is due for full points no later than NOON each Thursday that the reading is due, posted as instructed on the course Web site. The "grace period" for postings with one point lost is noon the following Thursday.

Writing reading responses is intended to help you:
- reflect on, clarify, question, and respond to class readings
- understand these concepts and issues in light of your own life experience
- raise questions about women’s experience in religion to share with others in the class.

How to Begin
1. You may want to hand write your entries initially, but will need to record them electronically via word processing to post on the Web.

2. When you are done with your reading (use the "Reading Discussion" questions as a guide to reading in depth), start writing in response to the Reading Reflection question for the week. Set aside enough time that you can spend 30-60 minutes in thoughtful writing on the question. You may also wish to add some reflection on events happening in your life or in the public realm that connect to class discussion and readings, as long as you pay some substantial attention to the reading reflection question posed for that week.

3. Your comments can be personal, drawing upon memories and observations from your experience, but they should relate to things we are working on in the class.

4. Please write in complete sentences, not bullet-points or lists. I won’t be expecting polished academic prose in these reading reflections, but clear writing does communicate your thoughts better than garbled or "stream of consciousness" writing. Also, since others in the class will be able to read your thoughts, you want to make them coherent and interesting.

5. Please conform to the rules governing good usage of quoted material. Don't write down information from a text without using quotes and giving a page number. If you are paraphrasing ideas from the text, you need to mention this informally (as in, "Jones describes. . . . , Smith suggests that. . . ."), rather than having it be ambiguous as to whether this is your thought or a thought from the reading. (In a more formal paper, you would need to add a footnote for paraphrases as well.)

6. Even though this is relatively informal writing, I will be checking for instances of plagiarism. Here’s what I would suggest: If you are responding to an article, PUT IT ASIDE as you write, so you don’t inadvertently “borrow? language from the text in your own response. That will encourage you to really put your ideas into your own language. If there is something striking that you want to quote directly, do so, using quotation marks. However, it is best to keep any direct quotations to a minimum, as the important thing here is what YOU think about the ideas you have just been exposed to.

Course Evaluation and Policies

Assignments and Evaluation Criteria (more instructions and details will be provided for each area)

Contributions to group learning -- 10% of grade
Reading responses -- 30% of grade
Two short papers -- 30% of grade (15% each)
Major project paper -- 30% of grade

Evaluation criteria:
• show reasoning/analytic skills by summarizing complex positions from the reading, supporting conclusions drawn from comparing and contrasting different texts;
• demonstrate in an understanding of American women’s experience of religion and of the development in recent decades of scholarship on women and religion;
• give evidence in of an understanding of the ways contemporary American women have participated in, contributed to, and sought changes in religious traditions;
• show an appreciation for the values, aspirations, and life circumstances of writers and fellow class members related to the impact of gender and sexual preference in shaping experience of contemporary religious institutions.
• show an ability to find information from community resources.

Late work: For full credit, reading responses must be posted on the Web site no later than noon on the date due. Late reading responses will be accepted only up to one week past the posted due date, and will be graded down one letter grade. Beyond the week, no late reading responses will be accepted. The same rule will apply to late short papers – accepted only up to one week late, but graded down one letter grade. The final paper will not be accepted late. If you experience extremely extenuating circumstances, please discuss your situation with me to see if you qualify for an incomplete.

Essays are graded according to Metro State standards:
A - for consistently outstanding work which surpasses the course requirements,
which exhibits mastery of the subject and is interesting to read. Excellent.
B - for work significantly better than course requirements, work which is interesting to read but which
may exhibit problems of a minor nature. Good.
C - for work which meets the basic course requirements. Adequate.
D - for work which merits credit but is below average. Partially Adequate.
F - No Credit.
N - No Credit.
S - Satisfactory. A “C-? or better.

Plagiarism (from the Student Handbook)

In simple terms, plagiarism is using another person's words or ideas and presenting them as your own, without acknowledging the original source. This is a very serious offense and qualifies as grounds for expulsion.
Plagiarism often takes the form of a student copying information from one source and presenting it in a paper or report without the use of footnotes or direct mention of the source in the body of the paper. Naturally, students are expected to read and use a variety of sources when writing a paper, but when the exact words (or words with slight modification) or ideas of others are used, the sources should be properly acknowledged. When instructors read student papers, they want to know which ideas are the student's and which belong to other sources.

It is also unacceptable to submit another person's paper or examination as your own. You should be aware that the university subscribes to plagiarism detection software, and that your papers may be selected randomly for plagiarism checking. In instances of plagiarism, instructors may impose sanctions such as a failing grade. If you have questions about the use of footnotes or other notations, talk to your instructor, consult the Library and Information Services web site, or seek assistance in the proper way of writing a paper by contacting the Writing Center.

Instructor Availability:

I will respond promptly to e-mail questions or inquiries, and will be available by phone as indicated on the printed syllabus. In person meetings will be available on Thursday evenings.

Course Calendar of Assignment Due Dates

Calendar for Course

Course activities, and many due dates, are Thursdays 1-15-09 – 4-30-09. (Note January 18 is the last day to cancel with refund; March 9-13 Spring Break; April 12 last day to withdraw; April 30 is Commencement).

This assignment calendar is subject to changes as the course moves on. Check this site at least twice weekly!

= = = = = = = = = = =

Week #2 - Readings for January 22: Womanspirit Rising, Preface, pp. 1-62 (required). Bednarowski pp. 1-15 (recommended - skim for overview of feminist studies of religion over time).

Week #3 - Readings for January 29: Womanspirit Rising pp. 63-130

Week #4 - Readings for February 5: Womanspirit Rising pp. 131-192.

Week #5 - Readings for February 12: -- Womanspirit Rising pp. 193-286.

Week #6 - Readings for February 19: -- WTV pp. ix-92.

Week #7 - Readings for February 26: WTV pp. 92-170.

** February 28 (Saturday) First Short Paper Due via e-mail: "Foremothers" - changed date**

Week #8 - Readings for March 5: WTV pp. 171-266.

March 9-13: Spring Break – No Class

Week #9 - Readings for March 19: WTV pp. 267-356.

Week #10 - Readings for March 26: BWOE pp. 3-12, 51-80, 93-104, 133-150.

Project #2 (participation/observation) due as e-mail attachment by midnight, Saturday, April 4 (changed date).

Week #11 - Readings for April 2: BWOE pp. CHANGED - SEE BELOW
1) bell hooks, p. 287, "Contemplation and Transformation"
2) Pema Chodron, p. 293, "No Right, No Wrong"
3) Jan Willis, p. 81, "Buddhism and Race."
4) Thubten Chodron, p. 223, "Living as a Western Buddhist Nun"
5) Rita Gross, p. 133, "Renunciation and Balance in American Buddhist Practice"

Week #12 - Readings for April 9: Bednarowski pp. ix -- 85.

Week #13 - Readings for April 16: Bednarowski pp. 86-149.

Week #14 - Readings for April 23: Bednarowski pp. 150-188.

Week #15 - April 30: Final papers due by midnight as e-mail attachment.

Overview of Course

Description: Does religion view women positively? Do certain religious teachings impact the quality of women’s lives and their role and status at home and in society? From a religious viewpoint, how can women and men work together toward change for the betterment of society? This upper-level (intended for experienced students) course examines religious teachings and treatment of women as well as the role of religion in women’s struggle for social change. Topics include analyses of women’s structural and personal oppression; critique of the role of gender, race, class and other diversity issues as they impact religious doctrines; and religious teachings about women and women’s spirituality.

This offering of the course will emphasize attention to women’s history and experience in contemporary American Christian, Jewish, and Buddhist traditions, while paying attention as well to women’s experience, leadership, and involvement in other contemporary American religious traditions. Historical and contemporary traditions will be studied through autobiography, films, arts, cultural studies and religious studies documents.

Competence Statement:
Knows features of women’s historical experience of religion as well as women’s contemporary contributions to religious thought and practice; can apply analytic frameworks from feminist scholarship to the study of women and religion; has demonstrated an appreciation for the creativity and diversity of women’s religious expression; recognizes the interlocking dimensions of gender, race, culture, sexual preference, and class in women’s experience in religion and in society; and understands and can articulate areas of ongoing challenge that both men and women face in society and religious institutions, including issues of unequal power, oppression, community building, resilience, and transformation.

Learning Outcomes:

A) To understand the historical framework of American women’s religious experiences, including an understanding of women’s contributions to American religion.

B) To be able to apply analytic frameworks and concepts from feminist scholarship in religious studies over the past thirty years.

C) To gain an appreciation for ethical and social contributions made by particular women in their development of religious innovations, leadership in creating social change, and serving as models of personal transformation.

D) To recognize and respect differences among groups and individuals, including the dimensions of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, sexual preference, and nationality, and to understand how these differences can contribute to conflicts between religious groups, or to oppression of classes of people such as women or gay and lesbian people.

E) To understand how women’s spiritual traditions are preserved and passed on through families, through art, through ceremony, through teaching, and through women’s friendship groups.

F) To experience some form of community women’s culture during the period of this class.

Required Texts:

Womanspirit Rising: A Feminist Reader in Religion –Christ & Plaskow, Eds.

Weaving the Visions: New Patterns in Feminist Spirituality – Plaskow & Christ, Eds.

Buddhist Women on the Edge: Contemporary Perspectives from the Western Frontier – Marianne Dresser, Ed.

The Religious Imagination of American Women – Mary Farrell Bednarowski

Here is a link to the Word copy of the syllabus: Download file

January 14, 2009

Comments on Meridel LeSeuer Video

Comments on Meridel LeSeuer: My People Are My Home

Meridel – wanted to have a child – “took Carl’s seed�? – connects to the idea of women having a child was magical / Goddess movement

Thinking of the corn fields – the women tried to preserve the corn fields for the future – misery when people were driven off the land – contrasts to the farmer culture of egalitarianism, sharing

How conscious she was of not wanting to stay linear – throughout her life conscious of needing to change, not being stuck – amazing the different parts of history her mother and grandmother were witness to – the idea of corporate farming starting so early – and the way that history involved conflict and an effort to fight back

Curious – she seemed to join movements – was she a leader? – what was her role?

Poetic narration extreme and full of metaphor – tying women’s experience to the rape of the cornfield

When she was talking about war (WWI) – none of the young men of her generation came back from the war

Thought it was interesting how the land was so fertile – but the video images were harsh – and old women’s faces were prominently displayed along with rhetoric about their being powerful and beautiful.

Ground Rules (Netiquette)

Ground Rules Suggested by Prior Students

• Respect others' opinions; exercise toleration.

• No anger or malice if disagreeing.

• Learn peoples' names.

• Use non-judgmental language.

• Don't take things personally.

• Respond and let them know if someone unintentionally offends you.

• Use memories as well as intellect.

• Don’t proselytize or preach.

• Don’t use the class as an opportunity for personal therapy.

Instructor-Generated Ground Rules

• Be prepared (with reading completed, journal up to date) so you can contribute to group learning, via discussion or blog.

• Respect differences.

• Ground our positions in "I" statements.

• Celebrate our own heritages, and study, understand and respect the heritage and traditions of others.

• Use language that is respectful of all people.

Week #3 Reading Discussion Questions

The Past: Does It Hold a Future for Women?
Second set of questions for WomanSpirit Rising

(Please read the introduction, Collins, Fiorenza, Pagels, and Stone. We will focus discussion only on these articles. Tribble and McLaughlan are optional, but you might glance a bit at them just to see what their concerns are.)

REMEMBER: these questions are to guide your reading and to prepare for class discussion. I don't expect you to write responses to them, other than notes for your own use to prepare for discussion or the Discussion Café, but to write a couple of generalized responses to the reading as you go along.

1. From the introduction. - How is studying women’s history in religion potentially "radicalizing" (see p. 64)?
- Reading this introduction, what questions about the articles are generated in your mind?

2. Responding to Collins "Reflections on the Meaning of Herstory,"
- What new understanding about the past does studying "herstory" open up to us?
- What difference does it make if we move from a "linear model" of history to one that is spiral, or to one of "radical discontinuity"?

3. Responding to Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza "Women in the Early Christian Movement." Elizabeth Cady Stanton in the late 1800's made a case for the importance of women doing their own Biblical interpretation. On p. 86, Fiorenza describes how scholars understand how the Bible was written.
- What possibilities for new understanding does reading this open up for you?
- What roles did women play in the early Christian movement (starting p. 87)? What surprised you about this information?
- After reading this account of early Christianity's hidden history of women, what issues arise for contemporary women?

4. Responding to Elaine Pagels "What Became of God the Mother" Conflicting Images of God in Early Christianity. Elaine Pagels is an important scholar for women's history and also the history of the early church, as she has uncovered information that was later supressed about feminine images of the Divine and about women's participation in some early Christian communities.
- How do you respond to the idea of a 'dyad' (male and female) way of seeing God (bottom p. 108 and following)?
- Note and list the ways the Divine is imaged as feminine in Gnostic Christian texts. How do these images impact you?
- p. 114 and following - What does Pagels argue is the reason that these texts and the Gnostic Christian communities that celebrated the texts were later suppressed or destroyed by the dominant church?

5. (For those of you who saw the video, you will remember seeing Merlin Stone on the video - the white-haired woman with the large pink-tinted glasses.) Responding to Merlin Stone's "When God Was a Woman." Merlin Stone was one of the very first women scholars to explore ancient goddess religions. In other writing, she has described how she felt led to the texts that opened up this inquiry for her; it was a genuine religious path for her, in addition to being a scholarly endeavor.
- As Stone began her study, what did she find that surprised her?
- How do you respond to the images she presents of the divine being female?
- What picture of early society does Stone portray?
- What questions come to mind for you in thinking about this early history?

Week #3 Discussion Café

It's after class - you're sitting in the Discussion Café thinking over the readings and student responses for Week #3. What are your responses to the reading and the ideas of your classmates?

- Online students: please post at least one entry of 250+ words for your group learning credit.
- Everyone - feel free to post reflections or responses to Week #3 readings and classmate writings.

Week #3 Reading Reflection Assignment

After reading the reading assignment (use the discussion questions to help you read with critical attention), write on this reading reflection question. Due date: noon on January 29. Post below as a comment. Note: the rubrics for doing a good job on reading reflections are now Course Information and Requirements.


Reading Reflection: These articles make the general point that women need to actively engage with reinterpreting history, finding resources for future change from reinterpreting the past. In particular, women need to do Biblical study and reinterpret the roles that women played in Biblical times and in early Christian history. What was surprising to you in these articles? What assumptions that you had about the past were challenged by these articles? What positive changes do these perspectives offer for men and women, and for society?

Class questions, comments, discoveries

Use the comments on this posting to pose questions, add general comments, share discoveries that don't fit into the weekly Discussion Café. Anything goes (that can be shared in polite society). The postings below are summaries of classroom group discussions.

January 13, 2009

Week #2 Reading Discussion Questions

Reading Discussion Questions for Women and Religion, Spring 2009
WomanSpirit Rising through p. 62 for 1-22-09


Instructions: Use these questions as you read to focus your thoughts on some key points they raise. Hint: Look over the questions as you read, then go back and look over the specific pages noted with the questions in mind. You might jot down a couple of keywords or thoughts (in the margins of the book? on a printout of the questions?) to help you keep track of your thinking, or as a prompt for discussion (in the in-person “book group? discussion, or the on-line Discussion Café). These early questions are mostly on the content of the articles, to get you into the issues and arguments; later discussion questions in the class will ask for more of your interpretation and response.

If you don’t understand any part of an article, don’t worry, as things will come clearer over time, when you participate in the small group or on-line discussions. Just do the reading and give it your best shot. Circle words that mystify you and just move on (though if you have time to look up something that seems essential in a sentence, that’s a good idea too).

Here’s a link to an on-line dictionary that includes sound files that speak the work for you: .

1. In the Preface to the 1992 edition, what were the four points given for the book's continued usefulness? What did the authors consider to be its limitations or flaws?

2. In the 1979 Introduction, the authors argue against the view published by some feminists at that time that religion was so flawed that it should be abandoned. What did the authors believe were the enduring reasons that religion is important? What did they identify as some key areas where they felt traditional religion needed to be reformed? How far has society come since this 1979 writing in these areas?

3. Discuss the two views of "women's experience" that the authors cited as being used in feminist writing of the time (7-9). How useful do these categories seem now?

4. In Saiving's article, what is the "human condition" that theologians of her day believed was universal (26-27)? What are her arguments that this reflects more a characteristic male condition than a universal human condition (27-35)?

5. Why did Saiving feel the modern era was "hypermasculine" (35-36)?

6. What does Saiving feel are the problems for women of unconditional love being taken as the highest virtue (36-37)?

7. Given women's socialization (and remember, Saiving is writing this in 1959), what might be some characteristic "women's sins" (37-39)? Are any of these things still particularly characteristic of women, in your experience? (It might be interesting to note that Saiving had returned to graduate school as a single mother, following a divorce, and was writing this section from very real personal experience).

8. Responding to Reuther: what are the contrasting pairs in the dualism she describes as a legacy of the Greeks and apocalyptic (meaning believing in forthcoming end times) Judaism? How did these dualities play out over history, and especially what has been their effect on women? (43-44)

9. How does Reuther describe earliest recorded history (or prehistory) (46-47)? What changes came about in the 1st millennium BCE (47-48)? How did these changes play out in Christianity (49)?

10. What are the links Reuther shows between how women and nature are viewed or treated (50-51)?

11. How does Reuther see women as uniquely situated to make a difference in society coming to a “reconciliation with the earth?? (p. 51) Do you think women have contributed to change in this way? Why or why not?

12. What are some essential challenges to Christian belief that Daly suggests feminists will present? Is there any way that Christianity could continue as a viable religion after the changes she proposes would need to happen?

13. Bednarowski (in The Religious Imagination of American Women) gives a succinct overview of the kinds of concerns and ideas that were present over the decades of work in feminist study of women and religion. How did this overview help contextualize the articles you read in WomanSpirit Rising?

Week #2 Reading Reflection Assignment

First Reading Reflection Assignment

General instructions for Reading Reflection assignments.
Use this process for doing the weekly Reading Reflection assignment – this one is due at NOON Thursday, January 22. More detail will be found in the Class Overview section on Reading Reflections.
• Do the week’s assigned reading completely, before starting the Reading Reflection assignment.
• Use the reading discussion questions posted each week as a “tour guide" to doing the reading – keep them with you as you read, as they will keep you on track with the main ideas in the reading. The reading discussion questions will also be a springboard for the optional classroom “book club" discussions or for the on-line reading discussions in the on-line Week #2 Discussion Café (which will be opened up after the Reading Reflections are due – check late Thursday evening or early Friday morning).
• When you are ready to write, do your Reading Reflection assignment initially in Word (or an equivalent word processing program). Make sure you do a spell-check and proofread your writing. Make sure you have not inadvertently used material from the reading without using quotations (and giving the page number). Even parts of sentences “borrowed" from your source counts as plagiarism. I do check!
• Skip lines between paragraphs.
• Do a word count – you will need a minimum of 250 words (about one double-spaced typed page), but aim for 400-500 words.
• When you are satisfied with your Reading Response, copy the entire text, open up a comment (below) and paste your response into the comment block. Include your first name and the initial of your last name, if you want to maintain some privacy (as this is a public blog, not a private course-only Web site). You will need to include your e-mail address as well, but this won't be viewed by others, just by me.

Write comfortably for 10 minutes or so on each of these questions. You don’t have to do all the writing at one time. Also, keep in mind that the reading response writing is fairly informal. You aren't being graded on how polished your prose is, so relax and just share your ideas.


The articles in WomanSpirit Rising, other than the most recent Preface, have been written 30 years or more ago. Which of the critiques of society or arguments presented still seem fresh to you? Which ideas still seem timely and important? Which do you feel have not met the test of time? What has changed in society that has made these arguments or concerns no longer viable?

Week #2 Discussion Café

The Week #2 Discussion Café is open for business Thursday afternoon, January 22. Use this space to post discussion comments.
-- On-line students (those unable to join the in-person discussion for week #2): make at least one entry of at least 200-250 words responding to one or more of the Reading Reflections posted by a classmate. (Post with first name, last initial.) Whatever your response - agreement, disagreement, having a different approach or perspective - be sure to give good reasons for your response, so that someone else can follow your train of thought. Post your response(s) as soon as possible after January 22, but no later than one week to count as a contribution to group learning.
-- Everyone: use this space to respond to Week #2 Reading Reflections, to issues or questions raised by the readings, or to other Discussion Café posts.